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New to CNC

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John MC09/12/2018 12:50:09
150 forum posts
23 photos

I've decided to buy one of those low cost CNC routers, mainly to make pattern making easier.

I have the CAD software to create the 3D model. I assume I will need something like the Mach3 software to create a code that the machine will understand. Next, do I need a "motion controller" between Mach3 and the machine?

I'm struggling to understand this bit, help!!!



geoff adams09/12/2018 13:18:33
117 forum posts
107 photos

hi John

what cad are you using ? you will need a cam package to produce g code mach3 is a machine controller and needs g code to run its a good idea to have an understanding of g code i quite often write my by hand you could try fusion 360 cad cam its free for hobby use i use cambam and e machineshop for my cad cam

cant help with motion controller not into the electronics of the machines im running two mills on mach3 and two lathes on there own controls if i can be of help pm me


Bazyle09/12/2018 13:26:11
4542 forum posts
184 photos

You said you have CAD so don't need Fusion which is CAD.
You intend to have a CNC router package so that has the machine controller so you don't need Mach3.

In between the two I think you need the CAM to translate the drawing code to the g-code. I believe Cura is one of the packages that do that but I'm no expert. There are a LOT of CAD and CNC threads on this forum so the best thing is to read all of them before parting with any money.

Edited By Bazyle on 09/12/2018 13:26:56

JasonB09/12/2018 13:36:08
15386 forum posts
1586 photos
1 articles

Bazyle, Fusion has CAM as well as CAD for free, you can import items drawn in something else or do the whole lot in F360.

John, you may also want to look at the Alternative CAd thread as there are examples of MoI CAM in there too.

John Haine09/12/2018 13:46:29
2511 forum posts
132 photos

John, you need a CAM package to turn the files generated by your CAD package into G-code. One which is FREE and easy to use is G Simple - has its limitations but I find it pretty good, especially for free!

Something like Mach 3 is a machine controller that takes G-code and makes the machine axes move. Mach 3 can do this on a Windows desktop with a parallel port, feeding the stepper drivers via a "breakout board" which is just a set of buffers to isolate your PC from the high voltages that can float around the machine tool itself. However you need a rather old pc with a parallel port and these are getting increasingly hard to find, and Mach 3 itself is no longer actively supported. I've been using Mach 3 in this mode for driving both lathe and mill for 8 years.

Mach 3 will also work through a motion controller, which takes the load of generating the real-time pulses to drive the axis motors away from the PC, and this is really the recommended way to do things these days. With a MC you can use a laptop, running Mach 3, the newer Mach 4, or some other controller package - UCCNC is one that many people recommend.

I believe that some of the CNC routers come with a dedicated controller which would obviate having to use a PC and motion controller.

Involute Curve09/12/2018 14:43:44
326 forum posts
84 photos

It would help if you posted the spec of the machine in question.

Very simplified CNC System.................

At its heart Mach3, 4, is an interface, trajectory planner, and G-code interpreter, however it can also be a motion controller in its own right, if you utilise the printer port(s), but this has it limitations.

A controller can include Mach3 as the interface but is actually a separate piece(s) of electronics kit that controls your Stepper and or Servo motors by receiving step and direction commands from Mach, it can also control relays, spindle etc etc etc.

CAD is where you create the drawings or 3D models.

CAM Software converts your 2D drawings or 3D cad model data into cutter path data.

Once the cutter paths are created they need to be output in a language your controller can understand, in Mach3's case G-code, this is done via a post processor, Mach3 closely emulates Fanuc, G-code, in my experience most Cam software will come with a standard Fanuc post processor, however its better to use a dedicated post processor for Mach3, some of which can be downloaded from the Mach download site, some Cam packages now come with a dedicated one for Mach, Fusion 360 being one of them.



John MC09/12/2018 18:19:38
150 forum posts
23 photos

Thanks for the replies. Think I understand now. I do my design work with Solidworks, that seems like it will do the job.


John Haine10/12/2018 15:07:13
2511 forum posts
132 photos

Alas, it seems that G-Simple which I recommended isn't available any longer, the download has been removed from the web.

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